First Wind of Boston is proposing the largest industrial wind project to date for Maine's western mountains. It will stretch more than 25 miles, from Bingham to Parkman.
The 64 500-foot turbines First Wind plans for that remote stretch of the Maine Woods will be highly intrusive and visible to large sections of the Appalachian Trail, from the Bigelow Preserve to Katahdin, including the wildest section of the Appalachian Trail, known as the “100 mile wilderness.”
The Expedited Wind Energy Act, passed in 2008 by the heavily lobbied and “gifted” Legislature, sets an 8-mile visual impact zone, which this string of turbines is beyond. Yet, the red flashing lights, shadow flicker, and noise pollution from the bird- and bat-killing turbines will completely industrialize the region.
The project area is also designated as critical habitat needed for the Atlantic salmon restoration efforts. This project will destroy the vegetation along the banks of 34 perennial streams critical for salmon recovery.
Mainers are being taken to the cleaners by First Wind of Boston. It has no concerns about the ecological impacts or the fact that these industrial wind “pig farms” are ruining the “wild” brand that defines Maine and attracts tourists, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
First Wind’s application to the Maine DEP states that “the purpose of the project is to create a commercially viable low impact wind energy project.” I cannot agree.
It is common knowledge that mountaintop industrial wind is not commercially feasible. The subsidies from local (TIFs), state (Pine Tree zones), and federal (production tax credits) governments are the only reason industrial wind projects are economically viable. In addition, the cost of electricity has risen and will continue to rise as a direct result of mountaintop industrial wind.
When those subsidies stop, you can count on First Wind disappearing with the public's tax dollar-generated profits, leaving behind a severely impoverished industrialized landscape.
It is a scam being perpetrated on the people of Maine by well-funded industrial wind lobbyists, a few quasi-environmental groups who refuse to get their heads out of the sand and others who refuse to stop taking the bribe money the wind corporations enjoy passing out.
The application also claims that a “wind power project like Bingham Wind Project addresses ... greenhouse gases impact on the environment, climate and the health of Maine citizens.” I disagree.
Every scientific study I have been able to review comes to exactly the opposite conclusion. Because wind is intermittent, it is necessary to back it up with conventional power plants.
Since these fossil fuel plants need to be ramped up and down to accommodate the intermittency, they end up using more fuel and putting out more greenhouse gases. It is like driving a vehicle in stop and go traffic. Vehicles use more fuel and put out more pollution due to engines running inefficiently.
When the greenhouse gases generated by construction and the consumption of large amounts of power needed to run the turbines (power not from the turbines), the thousands of gallons of regularly changed lubricants, the destructive mining of rare earth metals in Mongolia, the shipment of turbines, the plastics used in the composites — that so called “clean energy” is pretty darn dirty.
Add to that the loss of forest carbon sequestration due to the clearcutting of forests for turbine pads, roads and power lines, and mountaintop industrial wind doesn’t look so green.
Finally, First Wind claims that the Bingham Wind project is in the best interest of the “health of Maine citizens.” What about the Mainers who have had to move out of their homes because of the noise pollution or pernicious impact of infrasound — a sound used often as a torture technique around the world?
Mainers are now being treated with anti-depressants, blood pressure and insomnia medications as a direct result of industrial wind turbines. Yet First Wind has the gall to state that mountaintop wind power is good for the “health of Maine citizens.” It is only good for its financial bottom line.
One thing that I have learned during the past five years, and it was a hard fact to face, is that just because something is renewable doesn’t make it de facto clean and green.
First Wind is leaching taxpayer money to build turbines that are dividing communities, blasting off mountaintops, clear-cutting forests, killing birds and bats, forcing people out of their homes, negatively impacting the health of Mainers, and destroying the visual beauty of wild Maine.
Those actions are antithetical to Maine values.
It is truly a sad day for Maine if First Wind’s rampage of trashing Maine is allowed to continue.
Jonathan Carter is the director of the Forest Ecology Network in Lexington Township.